The move comes in response to a decline in Bud Light sales attributed to a conservative backlash in the U.S. The brewing giant reported Q3 earnings that surpassed expectations but revealed a nearly 14% drop in revenue from July to September in its largest market, the U.S. Bud Light sales have faced challenges since April when a conservative boycott arose following the brewer’s partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. To reverse the brand’s fortunes, Anheuser-Busch plans to promote Bud Light through uncontroversial platforms, emphasizing events like football games, concerts, and more.
St. Louis, Missouri, [Date] – Anheuser-Busch InBev has unveiled its strategy to breathe new life into its flagship beer, Bud Light, as it grapples with declining sales amid a conservative backlash in the U.S. The brewing giant reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings but acknowledged a nearly 14% dip in revenue from July to September, primarily driven by a slump in Bud Light sales.
The decline in Bud Light’s sales began in April when a conservative boycott emerged in response to the brewer’s partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. At the peak of the backlash, Modelo Especial dethroned Bud Light as the best-selling beer in the U.S.
Despite efforts to recover, Bud Light’s sales continue to lag, plummeting by 29% in the four weeks ending October 21 compared to the same period last year, according to Nielsen data compiled by research firm Bump Williams Consulting. Overall, sales have dwindled by nearly 19% this year, according to the same firm. CNBC reached out to Anheuser-Busch for their response.
In a bid to reverse the brand’s fortunes, Anheuser-Busch is shifting its marketing focus to platforms it deems uncontroversial. During a conference call with investors, CEO Michel Doukeris expressed confidence in Bud Light and revealed a “significant increase” in investment in the brand over the summer. The company’s future plans include promoting Bud Light at events such as football games and concerts.
Bud Light will concentrate its marketing efforts on platforms like the NFL, college football, the country music festival Stagecoach, and Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization providing scholarships to military families.
Earlier this month, Bud Light solidified its position as the official beer sponsor for the Ultimate Fighting Championship through a six-year marketing partnership, reported to be a nine-figure deal and the largest in the mixed martial arts promotion’s history, as previously covered by CNBC.
Furthermore, Doukeris emphasized a change in the company’s marketing structure, intending to steer the brand away from contentious debates. He stated, “While beer will always be at the table when important topics are debated, the beer itself should not be the focus of the debate.”
Doukeris also distanced the company from Dylan Mulvaney, who criticized Anheuser-Busch for not defending her during the boycott. The backlash surrounding the company’s response contributed to lower sales earlier this year. Doukeris clarified that the partnership with Mulvaney was a one-time campaign, not a formal production or advertisement, and that the company has been working to support those affected by the situation, including delivery drivers, sales representatives, wholesalers, and servers.
Despite Bud Light’s challenges in the U.S. market, Anheuser-Busch surpassed Wall Street’s expectations for the third quarter, with revenue rising by 5% from the previous year to $15.57 billion, driven by an industry-wide trend of higher pricing.